Kansas Hospital Association

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — Flatten the curve: A phrase that didn’t mean anything two months ago is now the driving factor behind social distancing, stay-at-home orders and limiting the number of people who can gather in one place.

The idea is to make sure hospitals aren’t overrun with severe COVID-19 cases, as well as help hospitals conserve limited resources such as personal protective equipment.

But in Kansas, there isn’t publicly available data on whether a hospital is close to filling up. And few are willing to share that information.

 

TOPEKA, Kansas — A flurry of proposals in the Kansas Statehouse this session take aim at rising medical costs, including one that may be the state’s first attempt to rein in “surprise bills.”

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The University of Kansas Health System and a Tennessee-based for-profit hospital chain have agreed to rescue a troubled Topeka hospital despite possible changes in federal health policy that could hurt Kansas providers.

Officials from the KU Health System and Ardent Health Services, the nation’s second-largest privately owned for-profit hospital chain, announced Thursday that they had signed a letter of intent to acquire St. Francis Health.

Bryan Thompson / Kansas News Service/File photo

Opponents of expanding Medicaid in Kansas are challenging supporters’ claims about how much it would cost.

Susan Moiser runs the state agency that oversees KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program. She’s challenging claims made by the Kansas Hospital Association and others that expansion would generate more than enough in revenue and cost savings to pay for itself.

Moiser says the estimates are based on flawed assumptions about the economic benefits of expansion and the extent to which federal funding could supplant state dollars.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

With all of the talk in recent years about Kansas’ budget problems, it can be hard to keep track of what programs have been cut and by how much.

So, some Kansans may not remember that last summer Gov. Sam Brownback ordered more than $56 million in cuts to KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program. Including the amount of federal matching funds lost, the cuts amounted to $128 million.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

This is the second in a two-part series on KanCare. Listen to part one here.

Kansas was out in front of just about every other state in 2013 when it fully privatized its Medicaid program and renamed it KanCare.

The switch to managed care was one of the first big policy changes made by Gov. Sam Brownback, who promised it would both improve health care and lower costs.

KanCare was immediately controversial.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The message delivered to a legislative committee Thursday by opponents of expanding Medicaid eligibility in Kansas boiled down to this: Expansion has been a disaster in the states that have enacted it, so don’t do it.

Gregg Pfister, legislative relations director for the Florida-based Foundation for Government Accountability, ticked through a list of expansion states where costs and enrollment significantly exceeded projections.

Susie Fagan / Kansas News Service

A yearlong campaign aimed at building support for Medicaid expansion culminated Wednesday in a show-of-force lobbying effort aimed at convincing Kansas lawmakers that they still have time to act.

A crowd of approximately 200 filled the north wing of the Statehouse for a rally before the House Health and Human Services Committee convened a hearing on a bill that would expand eligibility for KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, to more low-income Kansans.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

KanCare expansion advocates say confusion in Washington, D.C., is helping their cause as they gear up for Statehouse hearings this week on an expansion bill.

Kansas News Service/File photo

Advocates of expanding Medicaid in Kansas are trumpeting new poll numbers that show them gaining ground despite what appear to be long odds of success.

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